Spanberger Presses Secretary Blinken to Prioritize Engagement with Local Government at Fort Pickett, Requests Timetable on Duration of Temporary Housing Mission
Last Week, the Congresswoman Toured Fort Pickett with Local Officials, Executive Branch Officials, and Virginia National Guard Leadershi
Washington, September 14, 2021
**VIDEO: In Congressional Hearing, Spanberger Questions Secretary Blinken on Future Plans for Fort Pickett, Temporary Housing Facilities across the Country**
WASHINGTON, D.C. — During a U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger yesterday questioned U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the temporary housing of Afghans at Fort Pickett — located in Virginia’s Seventh District — and the timetable for processing Afghan evacuees through U.S. military installations. Additionally, she encouraged Secretary Blinken to prioritize engagement with Nottoway County and Virginia officials.
Last week, Spanberger visited Fort Pickett to learn more about Operation Allies Welcome and the mission to support and process Afghans at Fort Pickett. Spanberger toured the immigration processing and medical facilities and assessed gaps in services and resources. Additionally, she took the opportunity to welcome Afghan evacuees to the United States and to thank U.S. government officials, American servicemembers, Virginia National Guard members, and NGO volunteers for playing a key role in this mission.
Click here to watch Spanberger’s comments related to Fort Pickett, and click here to watch her full remarks. A partial transcript of Spanberger’s questions to Secretary Blinken regarding Fort Pickett is below.
SPANBERGER: Last week, I visited Fort Pickett — which is in my district — to see Operation Allies Welcome Firsthand. And I saw thousands of Afghan children, women, and men who made it out of Afghanistan. It is a testament to a whole-of-government approach — public servants, U.S. servicemembers, NGO workers, and volunteers standing up an incredible effort on very, very short notice.
On behalf of the communities I represent, I would just want to reiterate the importance of ensuring that the interagency team engages and communicates with local government.
I was happy to learn about the health screenings on the ground and the initiation of English language classes that have begun on site. I hope that continues.
But I am curious — how long do you anticipate Operation Allies Welcome will continue to utilize military installations across the United States — including the one that is in my district?
BLINKEN: Thank you. We are grateful for that support, the engagement of the community. It makes all the difference. And I want to make sure, too — like you — that we have the right connectivity, we are talking and coordinating with the local community.
We have to make sure that we have the ability to put people into the resettlement process with resettlement agencies across the United States— we are determined to move them as expeditiously as possible.
Let me come back to you with a better timeframe, because we also have to do it mindful of making sure we complete any security checks that are necessary.
SPANBERGER: And I do appreciate the robust security provisions that I witnessed when I was visiting.
Click here for photos from Spanberger’s visit to Fort Pickett last week.